Vivisection — a term now used to broadly describe animal experimentation — has been debated for centuries, pitting the pursuit of knowledge and the advancement of human health against compassion for animals. Those opposed to vivisection for ethical reasons have traditionally focused on the harm caused to sentient creatures, while its defenders claim that animal research and testing are essential to further medical progress, and that alleviation of human suffering outweighs the price paid by nonhuman research subjects.
We urge you to take a few minutes to learn more about how animals are used in science. It affects you -- whether you are concerned about animals, the future of science, the waste of tax-payer dollars, or about the health and well-being of the people you care about. Although it is a complicated issue, it is important to understand the scientific evidence that shows how animal experimentation is an inherently flawed methodology and to know that scientific progress can advance without the use of animal models.
Researchers conduct experiments on millions of animals every year, including mice and rats, rabbits, dogs, cats, pigs, monkeys, chimpanzees and other species. Animals are used in experiments that may cause physical pain, deprivation and emotional distress. Such animals may be subjected to surgeries and other procedures, poisoned, burned, blinded, irradiated, gassed, shocked, drug overdosed, or genetically manipulated in a way that causes them harm. These creatures are caged in artificial environments that deprive them of experiencing life as nature intended. Most animal experiments end with euthanasia of the animal subjects if they did not die as a result of the procedure itself. There is no doubt that many animals suffer horrifically in the name of science.
Society has allowed scientists to do to animals what would clearly violate animal cruelty laws if performed outside a laboratory. And the law presumed to protect animals used in laboratories, the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) provides only minimal protection for some species while excluding the vast majority of animals—such as rats, mice, and birds—from its minimum standards for housing, feeding, handling, and veterinary care. The reality is that this law lays out a framework under which harming animals is legally protected, as long as basic standards are met – or not! Publicly available inspection reports of research facilities, including many prominent universities, conducted by Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) show repeated violations of even minimum standards of care for their animals.
Yet many people have been convinced that animal models are a “necessary evil” – that animal experiments have been responsible for virtually all life-saving discoveries in the past, and that they are the only way to find cures for human diseases and ensure that the everyday products we use are safe. Many are also oblivious to what actually happens behind the laboratory doors, or wrongly believe that the laws intended to prohibit cruelty to pets and wildlife include protection for laboratory animals.
NAVS’ opposition to the use of animals in research and product testing is based on credible scientific evidence and compelling ethical arguments that vivisection is unnecessary, and that it can produce invalid, misleading results that can ultimately be harmful to people. NAVS is dedicated to promoting better, more humane science – designed to generate the most accurate models of human disease, as well as models for testing chemicals and drugs that can predict what occurs in humans. Animal models of disease are an outdated and inadequate methodology for predicting what treatments are safe and effective for humans. Over-reliance on animal models is actually counterproductive; it often sidetracks meaningful scientific progress while wasting millions of taxpayer dollars and other resources.
In this section of the website, we will provide an overview of animal use in research and discuss the scientific issues surrounding animal testing. We will provide scientific evidence describing the inherent problems surrounding the animal model and will discuss methodologies with more human relevance that should be used instead. We will show you how remarkable advances in science are being made without the use of animals.
NAVS believes that scientific endeavors perpetuating the suffering of other sentient creatures do not represent progress, and that science can do better. Since 1929, our response to this cruel, wasteful, and unnecessary practice has been to advance science without harming animals.
Common Sense: Framing the Scientific Argument
An Ethical Argument Against Vivisection